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Hardware / Software Hacking: Joining Second Life to the Real World

Software developers usually confine themselves to working entirely within the runtime environment of a computer just pushing around bits and pixels. Even virtual worlds such as Second Life exist only in the confines of our CPUs.

On the other hand, hardware hacking has really taken off in recent years and there are now magazines such as MAKE devoted to modifying everyday objects. It's a lot easier than software jockeys may expect, and this tutorial will begin with an entertaining exploration of simple ways to get started with linking a computer to real-world objects.

But what happens when you knock down the boundaries between the real world and a virtual world? This tutorial will show specific techniques and examples for linking real-world objects into the Second Life environment so that changes in the real world can be reflected in SL and vice versa. Examples will include a virtual letterbox in SL that shows whether your physical letterbox contains mail and a virtual thermostat in SL that controls a real air conditioner. Participants will have the option of either providing their own parts or purchasing a bundled kit for about $55 which will include an Arduino microcontroller that will be used during the tutorial to create a custom hardware interface to control objects in SL, and allow SL objects to control devices and appliances in the real world.

Participants will end the session with knowledge of a variety of hardware and software building blocks and techniques which can be used in their own projects.

Project: Second Life hardware hacks 


Jonathan Oxer

Jonathan is author of "How To Build A Website And Stay Sane" (www.stay-sane.com) and "Ubuntu Hacks" (www.ubuntuhacks.com); is President of Linux Australia; is Founder and Technical Director of Internet Vision Technologies; has convened the Debian Miniconf every year since 2003; and has delivered dozens of talks, presentations, tutorials, and keynotes at conferences around the world.

Jonathan Oxer

Jonathan is author of "How To Build A Website And Stay Sane" (www.stay-sane.com) and "Ubuntu Hacks" (www.ubuntuhacks.com); is President of Linux Australia; is Founder and Technical Director of Internet Vision Technologies; has convened the Debian Miniconf every year since 2003; and has delivered dozens of talks, presentations, tutorials, and keynotes at conferences around the world.

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